More Bugs

More bugs this week–just so you’ll know what to watch out for while you’re editing in Microsoft Word. Thanks to all who contributed to the collection. I’ve included a couple of my own “favorites” as well.

One bug I particularly dislike is the “no-delete-with-Tracking” bug. When I edit, I usually turn Tracking on so I can see revisions if I need to. But until I need to, I hide tracked changes so they don’t appear on my screen. It’s this particular combination that causes the bug. You can see it for yourself:

1. Turn on Track Changes (Tools > Track Changes > Highlight Changes) but tell Word not to display the changes on your screen.

2. In some existing text, delete a character with the DELETE key.

3. Use the LEFT ARROW key to move one character to the left.

4. Use the DELETE key to delete the next character.

Now comes the bug:

5. Use the DELETE key to delete the next character.

Aackk! It won’t delete. Your cursor just sits there, bumping up against the invisible deleted character. Word 2002 (finally) squashes this little beast. For earlier versions of Word, our Editor’s ToolKit program assigns a macro to the DELETE key that usually solves the problem. You can learn more about Editor’s ToolKit here:

Hilary Powers ( sent a description of two of her favorites: “The ghost-text bug is the one that leaps to mind–that is, Word’s charming habit of reconstructing a copy of deleted text and dropping it into the line if you select text adjacent to the deletion and type over it–followed closely by the mystery invisible character (the one that makes Word report there are no double spaces when you’re sitting there staring at one).”

Sam Mills sent another description of the ghost-text bug: “I fly through my edits by switching on revision marks but keeping them turned off onscreen. I always edited that way in Word 6 (Mac), and simply turned on the visuals when I’d finished. Then along came Word 98. Here’s what happens: If I delete text (double-clicking a word and dragging to highlight all the text I want deleted) at the beginning of a sentence, and then highlight and replace text elsewhere in the same sentence, the text I first deleted reappears, as if inserted by an occult hand. If I’m moving forward quickly I won’t notice the reinserted words behind me. I either must edit with the marks showing as I work, or save each file as a Word 6 document and reopen it in 6 to edit it. This buggy action occurs on all the Macs I’ve tried it on, including those at places like Kinko’s, so it’s not peculiar to my computer.”

I’m able to replicate this dangerous weirdness in Word 97 but not in Word 2000 or 2002.

Here a really annoying little critter, not related to Tracking, that shows up in Word 2001 for Macintosh:

1. Open Word’s Find dialog.

2. In the “Find What” box, enter ^13, which is the numeric code for a carriage return.

3. Put a checkmark in the “Use WildCards” checkbox (you may have to click the MORE button first).

4. Click the FIND button. What happens? You get a message: “The search item was not found.” (Grrr.)

The reason this is so serious is that you can’t use Word’s paragraph code (^p) when searching with wildcards. The alternative is to use ^13. But in Word 2001, the alternative doesn’t work, not even after installing Microsoft’s service release. There is a workaround, however. Instead of typing ^13 into the “Find What” box, type this instead:


In other words, you have to define the carriage return as a wildcard “group” and then “escape” the caret with the backslash. It’s weird but it works. (It took considerable fiddling around to figure this out.)



In last week’s newsletter, Steve Dobney wrote:

“I can create a table of contents easily but it remains a ‘field’ which won’t import into a page layout program like Quark. The only workaround I can find is to copy it into a new document, save it as Text Only, and then copy it back.”

Several readers sent a solution to this problem, which is simply to select the table of contents field and press CTRL + SHIFT + F9. That will convert the field to text (leaving formatting intact!). Then you can Find and Replace the blue Hyperlink character style with Default Paragraph Font character style. Thanks to Kieran Davies, Eric Fletcher, Katherine Pinard, and Hilary Powers for contributing to this solution.

This entry was posted in Programs. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • The Fine Print

    Thanks for reading Editorium Update (ISSN 1534-1283), published by:


    Articles © on date of publication by the Editorium. All rights reserved. Editorium Update and Editorium are trademarks of the Editorium.

    You may forward copies of Editorium Update to others (but not charge for it) and print or store it for your personal use. Any other broadcast, publication, retransmission, copying, or storage, without written permission from the Editorium, is strictly prohibited. If you’re interested in reprinting one of our articles, please send an email message to

    Editorium Update is provided for informational purposes only and without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and freedom from infringement. The user (you) assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and use of this document.

    The Editorium is not affiliated with Microsoft Corporation or any other entity.

    We do not sell, rent, or give our subscriber list to anyone.